Challenges of a remote workplace
Working remotely can present a whole host of new challenges, both individually and across teams. Individually, you may have trouble managing your time or separating your personal life from work. On a team or organization-wide level you may be feeling like your communication happens in silos or perhaps you’re struggling with feeling visible to your team. Maybe you simply have office FOMO and miss the human element of working. Do you find yourself checking emails on Saturdays? Or do you have a hard time ignoring your pets while working in your home office? You and your team may be suffering from a poor remote culture, but don’t worry - strengthening your leadership skills can improve your relationship with work in a remote workplace.
How leadership can shape your remote workplace
Whether you are top level management or an entry-level employee, your leadership skills will make a difference in your workplace. Here are a few strategies to improve the culture of your remote workplace:1. Project planning and staying organized
Great leaders act as a bridge between different groups of people. One leadership skill worth developing in the remote workplace is communicating between departments to create clarity around project goals and outcomes. If your team struggles with departmental silos, you can be the person who goes out of their way to communicate project priorities and provide clarity on timelines.2. Learn and improve your observation skills
Great leaders must be able to understand their team and surroundings. You can improve your observation skills by following some of these tips:
- Eliminate distractions - Try turning off unhelpful notifications and removing other distractions from your environment so you can focus on what really matters.
- Take notes - Try taking notes about your team and project progress.
- Slow down and look outwards - Use mindfulness techniques to be present and focus on your surroundings and teammates.
Taking time to observe the behaviors of your teammates will help you better understand them, and might help you pick up on issues that lie beneath the surface. Using observation skills to notice these issues can help prevent them from turning into larger problems later down the line.
3. Breaking down silos with community virtual events
Do you feel disconnected from your team? Are you missing that “human element” of working in the office? Try implementing virtual community events that can bring your team together. Here are a couple ideas for your team to try out:
- Happy Hour - Try letting loose with a team happy hour event. You can have one team member “host,” and plan an activity - or just let it be an opportunity for the team to conversate.
- Health and fitness challenges - One way to encourage a little friendly competition is by holding a fitness challenge. You can have everyone on the team set a fitness goal, and whoever gets closest to their goal or finishes first wins a prize. Make the prize enticing enough that everyone wants to participate. Hint: try something like vacation time!
- Trivia or other games - Encourage your team to have a little fun with trivia or games. This can help build camaraderie amongst your team.
By spending some time doing fun activities with your team you might learn something new about people in other departments. These activities can break down departmental silos, and make your team happier. It can also improve how your team works and communicates together.4. Build meeting rituals
Do your meetings feel disjointed? Do you leave them without clarity, or maybe even more confused than when you started? Poor meeting habits can lead to team frustrations, misunderstandings, and even disengagement. The good news is that this is easily avoidable by building healthy meeting rituals. So, what are some examples of a healthy meeting ritual?
- Respect time limits - It is easy to let time get away from you in meetings, but great leaders learn how to respect everyone’s time.
- Set meeting objectives - Setting goals for your meetings will help provide clarity to everyone attending the meeting, and as a bonus it will more than likely help you make more progress by setting an intention.
- Takeaways - When you wrap up your meetings, verbally reiterate all takeaways from the meeting. It is also helpful to send a follow up email with major points and next steps.
Adopting these meeting rituals will set your team on the right track to more engagement from your team and less confusion. These healthy meeting habits also set the tone for your workplace culture. Make sure you set the tone of being organized and efficient.5. Practice compassion
Finally, the top leadership skill for any great leader is to practice compassion. It is easy to find yourself getting caught up in stress when working in a remote environment. It is important to find ways to practice mindfulness so that you can show up as your best self for your team. Here are a few tips on how to be a compassionate leader in the workplace:
- Show your gratitude - Remember to show appreciation for your team. They work hard, and recognition can go a long way.
- Purposefully value differences - The future of the workplace is diverse, and strong compassionate leaders place value on the diversity of their teams.
- Have patience - Showing compassion through patience is a great way to make your team feel appreciated and valued.
Being a compassionate leader takes effort, but is most definitely worth it.